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No pathway to Paris without 1 gigaton of forest emissions reductions by 2025

Blog | Tue, 01 Nov, 2022 · 6 min read
measuring trees

Measuring trees in Uganda (@UN-REDD)

The climate change and biodiversity crises, combined with challenges presented by food insecurity and pandemics, are pushing us to the brink. Fortunately, actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore forests can deliver cost-effective climate change mitigation at scale. Forest-based solutions provide a crucial annual mitigation potential of around 4 gigatons by 2030.

But despite widespread recognition that we need forests to fend off the worst of the climate crisis, financing for forest-based solutions, such as REDD+, has been insufficient and slow-moving. To assess the progress of financial commitments for emissions reductions from forests, the Green Gigaton Challenge, founded in 2020 by UN-REDD, EDF, Forest Trends, EMERGENT and ART set a goal of mobilizing funds to pay for the equivalent of one gigaton of high-integrity emissions reductions from forests by 2025, and yearly thereafter. This provides a much-needed mid-term milestone towards meeting a range of goals and commitments for forests and climate by 2030. If we fail to achieve a gigaton of emissions reductions by 2025, the longer-term goals will be increasingly impossible to attain.

We are not yet on track to meet the milestone. Although more than half the time has passed, our analysis  shows that only 24% of the necessary commitments for emissions reductions have been made. Existing commitments must be transformed into reality and new commitments must urgently be made to finance forests, or we are at extreme risk of missing the milestone.

An unmistakable incentive in the form of an increased forest carbon price is needed. By committing to pay a higher minimum carbon price, public financial actors could become champions of change by unlocking supply and leveraging demand from private and blended finance for high-integrity emissions results. A bold first step, like a donor commitment to a floor price of USD 30-50 per ton of CO2e for a substantial volume of emissions reductions, would empower forest countries to transform their economies and catalyze further funding opportunities.

Upfront investment in REDD+ readiness and implementation must continue and be scaled up to ensure capacity and action to achieve emissions reductions results, with effective measurement, verification and reporting systems and safeguards in place. A higher price of forest carbon combined with reasonable certainty of future payments would go a long way towards attracting upfront finance for REDD+.

Integrity is key to ensuring real, robust emissions reductions with a strong compliance to social and environmental safeguards, and measured, reported and verified following international best practice in carbon accounting.  Transitions to nested jurisdictional approaches, aligned and incorporated with REDD+ national strategies and action plans, can help to reduce risks associated with the integrity of standalone projects while facilitating diverse streams of finance.

There is no progress without equity. Forest countries are at the heart of delivering needed emissions reductions and IPLCs have a key part in this process. But their lives are often at risk as land and environmental defenders. Access to funding at sufficient volumes for forest-based solutions, with capacity-building as needed, should be facilitated for IPLCs as real partners, and with a focus on women.